Bula! = Hello in Fijian
It’s been a long time coming but finally some good friends of ours decided to tie the knot.
I remember Danny walking into the shop I was managing back in 2005 and becoming my first trade customer.
Something just clicked and we became great friends. Meeting with Danny’s friend and partner Leath we extended friendships and sort of became inseparable. Cards on the weekend became the norm as we settled into each others lives. Watching each others kids grow up and become young men. So when Danny & Leath announced that their wedding was to be in Fiji it was a real no brainer that we would be packing our bags and heading to the islands.
Fiji has changed and from what the driver told me on the way to the resort we would be staying, the roads here are now paved all the way around the island. I joked and said would be great to get a scooter tour company going here, but after finding out it’s a 14 hour journey it all became too hard.
Driving at only 80km as the road even though sealed was bumpy all the way to the Shangri La Resort on the Coral Coast our driver go us there in good time. The sky was overcast and it had been raining earlier in the day, we just hoped that the day tomorrow would be fine for the wedding.
Crossing the causeway and past the security I realised that there were no shops around the entrance to the resort and should we need anything we would probably have to pay a slightly higher price in the resort.
Settling into the room and viewing the spectacular reef from our fourth level was breathtaking. One thing I love about Fiji is the great ocean view.
Being a resort you quickly get your bearings and sort out where things are, Tennis court (won’t be using that) games room, snorkel gear and the restaurants.
Selecting a place to eat and booking a table with the reservations office we caught our first glimpse of our friends and with the usual hugs and warm greetings planned to meet tomorrow before the wedding.
Getting changed back in the room we were soon on our way to dinner.
I was starting to get the impression that what ever you looked at here the prices were not going to be cheap.$9.00 for the cheapest beer was a signal. The meals were great and as seafood is all around there is a good choice to local cuisine.
Heading back after dinner we spied a small cake shop and were a little taken back by the prices, this holiday could get quite expensive if we let out guard down.
Elena made the comment that we had travelled for a whole month through Singapore (paid for by her work) Germany, Russia and China; yet this 5 days in Fiji would cost us more.
OK to be fair we stayed with friends and family, but if you remove the cost for accommodation then the cost for food is high.
Dawn broke and I was in holiday mode. Rising at 8.30am which is real late for me we made our way to the complimentary breakfast. We had a choice of two restaurants to chose from, we decided that we would try the buffet downstairs (we all the children were).
Greeted by a Fiji guy who was “more than friendly” we were guided to our table. I find it somewhat amusing to got to a buffet restaurant to be guided to a table what all you want is to be guided to the food!!
Dumping the sunglasses and Elena’s handbag we made a beeline for the buffet.
The drone of kids yelling and screaming was getting to me, I have to be blunt, when I want piece and quiet I don’t want kids. Elena tells me often that I am not a child friendly person and there I times that I have to agree.
Breakfast over we exchanged our clothes for bikini’s and board shorts and went exploring the coast of the small Island that we to be our home for the next few days.
We thought we would walk up to the chapel and around the golf course, while there was no one in this direction of the beach. The beach was literally isolated, apart from the odd Fijian resort worker there was nobody around.
As we reached the most furthest point on the beach we were cut off by rocks and had to head inland past the chapel to the golf course. Walking under the coconut trees we heard a thump. We turned to see a coconut on the ground behind us. This is not the place to be hit on the head with a coconut. while you may have a nice resort to stay in the hospital is either in Suva (100km away) or Nadi (65km away) and with a bumpy ride all the way. We thought it best to stick to the paths around the golf course.
Making our way to the causeway and along the main entry road we were soon back at the lobby.
With noon now approaching we headed for the beach. We wandered past the crowds and found a secluded section were there was no one but us. Within minutes we were in the water and enjoying what Fiji has to offer, warm clear water with lots of small fish.
An hour later we wandered up the beach to the pool to find Danny and a couple of friends. Danny had been kicked out of the room as the girls were preparing for the wedding set for 5pm.
We relaxed by the pool for a few more hours before making our way back to the room to get ready for the nights activities.
Meeting at the lobby to the sound of bagpipes had me guessing what kind of wedding this was going to be. I knew Danny’s heritage was Romanian, but Leath I wasn’t sure. We were the second wedding this afternoon and we found that the bagpipes were for the bridal party returning from the chapel.
The chapel here at the Shangri La is beautiful. Facing the ocean with a full glass window and whitewashed rendered wall it sits proudly among its surroundings.
With a traditional Fijian choir sitting in the back and our group of 40 guests we filled the church and waited for the moment when Leath would walk through the chapel doors.
there was only one slight hiccup and one that Leath wasn’t aware of, someone had locked the main entry door to the church so as Leath was walking up the path one of the choir were frantically trying to unlock the door.
It was perfect timing as the doors were opened Leath was at the bottom step and making her way to the chapel.
The ceremony was short and beautiful, both Danny and Leath looked great. This was a long time coming and all of us knew that they would be very happy together.
With all photos done we made our way to the balcony by one of the many pools and back dropped by the ocean to wine, dine and dance into the small hours. Some of us even made our way to the Black Marlin, the local disco bar and night caped on whiskey & cocktails.
The morning after was fine, I surprised myself with no hangover and was soon at breakfast. We had decided that we would just take it easy while we where here and not plan too much into each day.
Having breakfast upstairs was a quiet affair as there were no children and the pace seemed a little more relaxed. Our room seemed like the perfect way to rest off breakfast and for the first time in ages we actually lay on the bed and watched TV.
The best thing about being here is that days disappear. What I mean is that after a couple of days here you start to forget what day it is and what event you were doing on each day. When you have no set plans you have nothing to check back on to give you a point of reference, so plotting for the future becomes a futile quest.
“What day are we going to Gecko’s for dinner?” was the question Elena answered with “Tuesday”. That was great but “what day is it today?” Elena answered “….ummmm Monday?” so we were both lost for days, turns out today is Sunday.
Monday, as the weather is fine today we decided that we would walk to the far end of the bay. This would mean crossing the inlet at the end of the resort at low tide. The water is not so deep that it chills the family jewels, but deep enough to keep an eye on the camera bag and gear.
The walk is well worth it to just get away from the resort for the day. I have to be honest, resorts are not me and as much as I used to sell them when I was a travel agent, they were mostly sold to families. So to get away from the kids and the tourist traffic jams we got the hell out of dodge.
Looking back across the bay to the resort gave us a new perspective and with just a few locals rounding the point to go fishing we were on our own and enjoying playing in the rock pools left by the outgoing tide.
Taking our time and just relaxing in the sun, it was a great day just to spend with Elena kicking the sand between our toes and planning our escape from work and trying to figure our the best way forward.
We are committed to changing our lives to ones were we can travel more and not be tied down to a place. Yet we may still have to be tied to a job, as long as its Internet based and allows us to travel.
Getting back to the inlet we met a villager who was keen to take us to his village and we planned to go the following day at low tide.
Dinner tonight was at the “Village and cultural dance”. It was interesting, but we felt that for the $196.00 we paid that there could have been a longer show. Food was OK but once again we were disappointed , the restaurant we dined in on our first night at the resort was better. If you have never witnessed a Polynesian dance show you may enjoy what is on offer here, however growing up in South Auckland New Zealand I’ve seen a lot of cultural shows of this type for free. Elena also thought it was OK, but as travel agents we both said this was not value for money.
Tuesday brings a wet day to the island and the planned day to the village is forgotten as we hang around or room watching TV and reading, to some it sounds boring but when you plan to do nothing on your holiday and don’t commit to any type of structure you are more comfortable in the decisions that you make.
With a knocking on the door we let in the maid and went in search of an indoor activity.
Finding a table tennis table in the kids games room we flicked on the fan and proceed to pretend that we could play like professionals. Elena wish she had learnt the skills from her mother who I have just found out, used to play professionally in Russia and travelled the country when she was younger. I’m surprised that after almost 15 years of marriage Elena still has little secrets hidden away.
Travelling by taxi to Geckos in the rain we struck up a conversation with our taxi driver and arranged our ride back to the airport tomorrow. at the price of $90 it was cheaper than the resorts transfer ($120). Once again it’s proof that the resort will send you broke if you let it.
Geckos served the best meal I have had here on this stay, if you come here order the Lobster Mornay! oh and one more thing… the beer is $3.00 cheaper per bottle!
We discovered that not all is included in the Shangri La Resort, Complimentary snorkeling consists of a mask and flippers but no snorkel, if you need a snorkel it costs $22 per hour!
Home today and back to the life that we are so much trying to escape from. Our holidays have been great and experiences that with last for years to come. You learn more in a week of travel that you would 6 months at work as your seances at heightened and you learn new experiences. I know that we will travel again soon and suck the sweet nectar that this beautiful planet has to offer.
So long Fiji, all chillaxed and ready to face the world again….
Airlines used for this journey
Car parking is a pain,so get it sorted.
Andrews Airport Parking